Acharya Kanad

The Indian Sage who developed Atomic Theory 2,600 years ago


John Dalton (1766 – 1844), an English chemist and physicist, is the man credited today with the development of atomic theory.  However, a theory of atoms was actually formulated2,500 years before Dalton by an Indian sage and philosopher, known as Acharya Kanad.

Acharya Kanad was born in 600 BC in Prabhas Kshetra (near Dwaraka) in Gujarat, India. His real name was Kashyap.

Kashyap was on a pilgrimage to Prayag when he saw thousands of pilgrims litter the streets with flowers and rice grains, which they offered at the temple. Kashyap, fascinated by small particles, began collecting the grains of rice. A crowd gathered around to see the strange man collecting grains from the street. Kashyap was asked why he was collecting the grains that even a beggar wouldn’t touch. He told them that individual grains in themselves may seem worthless, but a collection of some hundred grains make up a person's meal, the collection many meals would feed an entire family and ultimately the entire mankind was made of many families, thus even a single grain of rice was as important as all the valuable riches in this world. Since then, people began calling him ‘Kanad’, as ‘Kan’ in Sanskrit means ‘the smallest particle’. 

Kanad pursued his fascination with the unseen world and with conceptualising the idea of the smallest particle. He began writing down his ideas and teaching them to others.  Thus, people began calling him ‘Acharya’ (‘the teacher’), hence the name Acharya Kanad (‘the teacher of small particles’)

Kanad’s conception of Anu (the atom)

Kanad was walking with food in his hand, breaking it into small pieces when he realised that he was unable to divide the food into any further parts, it was too small. From this moment, Kanad conceptualised the idea of a particle that could not be divided any further. He called that indivisible matter Parmanu, or anu (atom).

Acharya Kanad proposed that this indivisible matter could not be sensed through any human organ or seen by the naked eye, and that an inherent urge made one Parmanu combine with another.  When two Parmanu belonging to one class of substance combined, a dwinuka (binary molecule) was the result. This dwinuka had properties similar to the two parent Parmanu.

Kanad suggested that it was the different combinations of Parmanu which produced different types of substances. He also put forward the idea that atoms could be combined in various ways to produce chemical changes in presence of other factors such as heat. He gave blackening of earthen pot and ripening of fruit as examples of this phenomenon.

Acharya Kanad founded the Vaisheshika school of philosophy where he taught his ideas about the atom and the nature of the universe. He wrote a book on his research “Vaisheshik Darshan” and became known as “The Father of Atomic theory.”

In the West, atomism emerged in the 5th century BC with the ancient Greeks Leucippus and Democritus. Whether Indian culture influenced Greek or vice versa or whether both evolved independently is a matter of dispute.

Kanad is reporting to have said: ”Every object of creation is made of atoms which in turn connect with each other to form molecules.”  His theory of the atom was abstract and enmeshed in philosophy as they were based on logic and not on personal experience or experimentation. But in the words of A.L. Basham, the veteran Australian Indologist, "they were brilliant imaginative explanations of the physical structure of the world, and in a large measure, agreed with the discoveries of modern physics."

By April Holloway


Funny, how you are guilty of the sin that you accuse Indians of - Self Praise and boasting. ! Even the Great Alexander was happy to learn from the Indian Ascetic Nagarjuna.

Yes I do agree that ancient swastika existed all over europe and Europe was Hindu/Pagan before. But the sad part is that Europe got christianised and rest of the world too. Only India is the one which maintained ancient civilization being Hindu/pagan still. But it is true that India did do a lot of things first maybe not everything cause at that time before 7000 BC, HInduism, pagan practices was followed all over the world. It was part of one big civilization. Lord Krishna was known as Hercules in Southern Europe and Thor was Lord Indra.

All your above info has been debunked long back, what u said everything is false, it is written by racist euro centric white historians, u are not at all aware of the Indian civilization, Indian civilization started 20,000 yrs ago, Indus Valley is their 6th civilization which was 15,000 yrs ahead of its time, they had already excelled in the fields of Medicine, Physics. Maths, Economics , Navigation at that time when the rest of the world including Greece was still under stone age, Nalanda and Takshashila universities in India were the first international universities in the whole world, Navigation and Maths started in India long back around 500,000 yr ago, Writing started around 600,000 yrs ago, there are many excavations in India which date their civilization to 600,000 to 700,000 yrs old, at that time they already knew about, Meta physics, Quantum Physics when the rest of the world was still under stone age, recent research has proved that both Mahabharata and Ramayana took place in reality, Ramayana took place 28,000 yrs ago, Indians are the real pioneers of Everything. No one else. Alexander never invaded India, Raja Porus of Alexander literally mauled Alexander, Real history has been manipulated and distorted by racist Euro Centric Writers and historians, Greece and India only had trade relations, India influenced most of the Greek Philosophy, Greek Maths, Science everything, India is the cradle of civilization and Mother of Everyone

Well nice to read the advances of the Greek Civilization and it must be appreciated. As for the oldest civilization i will not claim but induce free minds to explore Nirgrantha Jain Scriptures that describes how Lord Aadinath the First Nirgrantha Tirthankara revealed knowledge to mankind. And further in these scriptures how the secrets of human life have been described in detail and are in harmony with the modern science. Further just to give a unique clue Lord Seemandhar Swami the Living Nirgrantha Tirthankara in this universe is being worshiped in Jain Temples worldwide. So the world needs to find the truth.

U have given referance from wikipedia,pls check how wikipedia works,with due respect to ur civilisation & we indians believe the whole world is one family
Swastika is the hindu symbol borrowed by Hiltler,,Till 18th centuary india was the only source of Diamond.They were master in purifiying Mercury & extracting Zinc which many people dint know.
2) Regarding writing Sanskrit is the oldest language but date was given by British Historians,because they believed in christianity & earth came in to exist after 4000 bc only,this notion made them to put sanskrit in 2600bc.Rigveda is the oldest script available to mankind ,with the finding of a sunken city in the sea coast of india now they r in terms of giving 9000 yrs old to it .fithasri & mathri in sanskrit ,gave birth to pitar & mater in greek & father & mother in English.The word navigation itself came from sanskrit.
Greece was greatly influenced by India ,that is the reason pythagoras travelled to india to learn..Indians were already master in arts & sculpture.Indians were the first to cultivate cotton & produce clothes.Indians were the first to create steel & master the art of Damascus steel.In wikipedia u will read corn was introduced in india by the portugese,but if u visit our 1000 yrs old temple u can see our godess holding it .Indian History has been messed up very much just to show western superiority.The indian astronomical calculations were perfect & it is none less to others ,u may say they borrowed it from greece,The indian atharveda 1000bce (according to ur people) talks abt moon & sun constellations .Ancient India's contributions in the field of astronomy are well known and well documented. The earliest references to astronomy are found in the Rig Veda, Around 500 BCE, Aryabhata presented a mathematical system that took the Earth to spin on its axis and considered the motions of the planets with respect to the Sun. He also made an accurate approximation of the Earth's circumference and diameter, and also discovered how the lunar eclipse and solar eclipse happen for the first time. He gives the radius of the planetary orbits in terms of the radius of the Earth/Sun orbit as essentially their periods of rotation around the Sun. He was also the earliest to discover that the orbits of the planets around the Sun are ellipses.

He is the first known astronomer on that continent to have used a continuous system of counting solar days. His book, The Aryabhatiya, published in 498 AD described numerical and geometric rules for eclipse calculations. Indian astronomy at that time was taking much of its lead from cyclic Hindu cosmology in which nature operated in cycles, setting the stage for searching for numerical patterns in the expected time frames for eclipses.

Aryabhatta is said to have been born in 476 A.D. at a town called Ashmaka in today's Indian state of Kerala. When he was still a young boy he had been sent to the University of Nalanda to study astronomy. He made significant contributions to the field of astronomy. He also propounded the Heliocentric theory of gravitation, thus predating Copernicus by almost one thousand years.

Aryabhatta's Magnum Opus, the Aryabhattiya was translated into Latin in the 13th century. Through this translation, European mathematicians got to know methods for calculating the areas of triangles, volumes of spheres as well as square and cube root. Aryabhatta's ideas about eclipses and the sun being the source of moonlight may not have caused much of an impression on European astronomers as by then they had come to know of these facts through the observations of Copernicus and Galileo.

But considering that Aryabhatta discovered these facts 1,500 years ago, and 1,000 years before Copernicus and Galileo makes him a pioneer in this area too. Aryabhatta's methods of astronomical calculations expounded in his Aryabhatta-Siddhatha were reliable for practical purposes of fixing the Panchanga (Hindu calendar). Thus in ancient India, eclipses were also forecast and their true nature was perceived at least by the astronomers.

Post Siddhantic Astronomy
The period arose because of the rise of Islam in India and the importing of Greek texts, translated into Arabic, into the region. For this reason, it is often known as the Zij Era, after the Zij tablets containing astronomical data. Importantly, the first Zij tablets were translated from Sanskrit, by Al-Khwarizmi (780 – 850 CE), and included the number zero amongst the simpler Indian numbering system, the greatest contribution of the Vedic mathematicians to the Western world.
So far, our look at ancient astronomy has concentrated very much upon Mesopotamia, European astronomy and the Islamic Golden Age. However, in any study of astronomy, it is impossible to ignore the work of the great Indian astronomers; their contribution to the science influenced Hellenic, Islamic and European thought for centuries, with their work carried down the great Silk Road into Europe.

Indian astronomy was heavily tied to their religious and spiritual outlook of the world, but it contained many accurate observations of phenomena. This acted as a catalyst for the growth of mathematics in the subcontinent, one of the greatest legacies passed on by India to the western world.
Indian Astronomy, Astrology and the Vedas
The first records of sophisticated astronomy in India date back to at least 2000 BCE, where they are found in the Rigveda (c1700-1100 BCE), one of the primary and foremost texts of Hinduism. The ancient Indian astronomers used the stars and the planets to create astrological charts and read omens, devising sophisticated mathematical models and developing many interesting theories, many of which passed into the Islamic world and Europe.

The Rigveda shows that the Indians divided the year into 360 days, and the year was subdivided into 12 months of 30 days. Every 5 years, two intercalary periods were added to bring the calendar back in line with the solar year, ensuring that years averaged 366 days. However, the Indian year still migrated four days in every five years, and Indian astronomers constantly tweaked and adjusted their calendars over the millennia. The text also shows that the Indians used four cardinal points for ensuring the correct orientation of altars.

The Jyotisa Vedanga, the first Vedic text to mention astronomical data, records events going back as far as 4000 BCE, although many archaeoastronomers believe that this text may include observations from as early as 11 000 BCE. They point out that some of the records may have been copied from earlier manuscripts, but this is an area where more research is needed, as many of the references are unclear and couched in religious terminology.

This period saw many advances in measuring time and the procession of the heavens, with a few proto-theories about the structure of the universe. More importantly, this period saw the transmission of ideas between the Indians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Persians. This exchange of theories and philosophy was extremely important to the development of astronomy.
Indian Astronomy and the Siddhantic Era

In this period, a new branch of astronomy, diverging from the Vedas began. Called the Siddhantic Era, it began with a series of books called the Siddhanat, ‘Solutions,’ which charted the solar year, including solstices, equinoxes, lunar periods, solar and lunar eclipses, and planetary movements. The Siddhantic Era saw three great Indian astronomers, sadly little known in the west, despite the great advances that they made.

By the first century CE, Indian astronomers proposed that the stars were exactly like the sun, but much further away, at a time when the Greeks were still using celestial crystal spheres to explain the cosmos. They also understood that the earth was spherical, and Indian astronomers attempted to calculate the circumference of the planet.
It is difficult to pick out exactly the thoughts of the Indians, because many of their observations and ideas are revealed in religious verses, In his text, called the ‘Shatapatha Brahmana,’ he also measured the distance of the sun from the earth, and the distance of the moon from the earth, to be 108 times the diameter of these bodies, very close to the modern measurements of 107.5 for the sun and 110.6 from the moon.
The influence of the Indian astronomers did not end here, as their work would continue to be used by the Islamic scholars and would form one of cornerstones of Islamic astronomy. During the great Mughal Era of India (1526 – 1725), Hindu mathematical techniques, united with Islamic observational techniques led to great advances in astronomy. Through the British Colonial annexation of India, these techniques became a major part of modern astronomy.
I do agree u may be aware of Indian History which was edited by the British people who always felt superior than others.just check the history ,Iam not claiming that everything was invented by indians,but Ancient Indians were far better than others in science & technology,that is the reason many from the west went in search of more thing Alexander never conquered India & has to return back after fighting a deadly battle with a border King who had just 80 elephant & 5000 cavalry.His next battle would have been suicidal if he were to move forward against the mauryans who had 6000 warElephants & 2,00,000 lakh cavalry.In later periods It took nearly 800 yrs for the Arabs to conquer North India alone & another 200 yrs for central india,all temples & monuments great literatures & arts were destroyed by them & finally portugese came & failed & then dutch to failed & french also failed &Britishers suceeded through divide & Rule .
These words were not said by Indians
Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA said: India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.
I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of Ganga-Astronomy,astrology,spirutualisim,etc,It is very important to note 2500 years pythagoras went from samos to the Ganga to learn Geometry… But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey hat the reputation of the Brahmin's science not been established in Europe... --FRANCOIS M VOLTAIRE--FRENCH PHILOSOPHER

What we shall find in MODERN PHYSICS ia an exemlification ,an encouragement and a refinement of OLD HINDU WISTOM--JULIUS R OPPENHEMER--Father of ATOMIC BOMB

INDIAN student should value their religious culture & ofcourse ,the classical India culture bears importantly on the meaning of Life & values.I would not separate the Two .To separate science & india culture would be harmful,I don’t think it is practical to keep scientific & spiritual culture separate.--CHARLES H TOWNES--Noble prize winner-RADAR BOMBING ,MICRO WAVE Emitting systems

The vastest Knowledge of today cannot transcend the buddhi of the RISHIS in ancient India,& science in its most advanced stage now ,is closer to vedanta than ever before--ALFRED NORTH WHITELAND--British phiosopher & mathematician

The GREEKS loved so much India philosophy DEMETRIOS GALIANOS had even translated the Bhagavad gita. There is absolutely not a shadow of Doubts that the Greeks new all about INDIAN philosophy--ROGER POL DROIT--FRENCH PHILOSOPHER & WRITER

It is curious that people like Schroedinger,Niels Bohr and oppenheimer were Upanishad scholars--JOHN ARCHIBALD WHEELER--AMERICAN PHYSIST--first to coin black hole,atomic bomb

Religious faith in the case of the Hinduisim has never been allowed to run counter to scientific laws, moreover the former is never made a condition for the knowledge they teach ,but there r always scrupulously careful to take into consideration the possibility that by reason both the agnostic & atheist may attain truth in their own way--ROMAIN ROLLAND--FRENCH NOBLE Laureate

The Hinduisim is the only one of the worlds greatest faith dedicated to the idea that cosmos itself undrgoes an immense ,indeed an infinite,number of deaths & rebirths,It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology--Dr.CARL SAGAN greatest astro physicst

From every sentence of the Upanishads deep ,original & sublime thoughts arise, & the whole is prevaded by a high & holy & ernest spirit,,In the whole world there is no study so beneficial & so elevating as that of the upanishads. They r destined sooner or later to become the faith of the people..ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

"When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous." ~ ALBERT EINSTEIN
"India was the mother of..village communities of self-government and democracy." Will Durant.

"We want to thank ISRO(indian space research organisation) for making the discovery possible. The moon till now was thought to be a very dry surface with lot of rocks." Jim Green, NASA Director.

It [The Upanishads] is the most satisfying and elevating reading which is possible in the world; it has been the solace of my life and will be the solace of my death." Arthur Schopenhauer.

"India - the land of Vedas, the remarkable works contain not only religious ideas for a perfect life, but also facts which science has proved true. Electricity, radium, electronics, airship, all were known to the seers who founded the Vedas." Wheeler Wilcox.

"Gravitation was known to the Indians before the birth of Newton. The system of blood circulation was discovered by them centuries before Harvey was heard of." P. Johnstone.

"The inventor (J.C. Bose) has transmitted signals to a distance of nearly a mile and herein lies the first and obvious and exceedingly valuable application of this new theoretical marvel." The Daily Chronicle, England, 1896.

'In the whole history of mathematics, there has been no more revolutionary step than the one which India made when they invented zero." Lancelot Hogben.

Due to the legacy of colonialism, the exploitation of which was ideologically justified through a doctrine of racial superiority, the contributions of non-European civilizations were often ignored, or, as George Ghevarughese Joseph argued, even distorted, in that they were often misattributed as European." Dr. David Gray

A wonder to modern-day researchers, the cities [were] highly developed and advanced. A remarkable early example of city planning. David Hatcher Childress.

"Indian medicine dealt with the whole area of the science. Much attention was devoted to hygiene, to the regimen of the body, and to diet.
Arabic medicine was founded on the translations from the Sanskrit treatise, made by command of the Kaliphs of Baghdad, 750-960 AD. European medicine, down to the 17th Century, was based upon the Arabic; and the name of the Indian physician Charaka repeatedly occurs in the Latin translations." Sir William Hunter, British Historian.

"It is more important to prevent the occurrence of disease than to seek a cure." Acharya Charaka, the 'Father of Medicine'.

"The surgery of the ancient Indian physicians was bold and skilful. A special branch of surgery was dedicated to rhinoplasty or operations for improving deformed ears, noses and forming new ones, which European surgeons have borrowed." Sir William Hunter.
"It is an undoubted fact that in India, religions and philosophical thinkers were able to enjoy perfect, nearly absolute freedom for a long period. The freedom of thought in ancient India was so considerable as to find no parallel in the West before the most recent age." Max Weber, German Sociologist.
In India in Bondage, Sunderland also quotes Lord Curzon, the British statesman who was viceroy in India from 1899 to 1905, as saying in his address delivered at the great Delhi Durbar in 1901: "Powerful empires existed and flourished here [in India] while Englishmen were still wandering, painted in the woods, while the English colonies were a wilderness and a jungle. India has left a deeper mark upon the history, the philosophy, and the religion of mankind, than any other terrestrial unit in the universe."

        Lord Curzon had also stated: "While we [the British] hold onto India, we are a first rate power. If we lose India, we will decline to a third rate power. This is the value of India."


Next article